Psychologist for Depression in Brussels (Auderghem)

Depression: Inner Voices Ruminating Negative Feelings

A Man Who No Longer Wants Anything

The hours go by, and I have no desire for anything. I slept poorly. I wake up with the desire to never get up again.

Last night, I received an email, it’s from a friend: How am I doing? I will ignore this email, and I’m anxious: what will I do if she calls me? Should I block her number in advance?

I blame myself so much that I am a cop, a judge, and a prisoner: I stopped, condemned, and imprisoned myself in a fortress of silence.

Knock, knock? Someone is knocking on someone else’s door; I no longer live at the provided address.

The Heavy Burden of a Broken Woman

I wake up, and already my hand gropes for the vodka bottle, which must have fallen last night.

There it is. The taste is bitter like that of existence. The effect is never fast enough; if I had the courage, I would inject it directly into my heart.

I vaguely remember having a few children to take to school, two or three, I’ve lost count. Well, they’re grown up now; at 7 years old, I was chopping wood in the cold, or else it was slaps and beatings.

What will I do today, stay with vodka, add some apple juice for vitamins, or switch to rum for a change? I no longer think about all those men who raped, abused, insulted, humiliated, or beat me.

And what’s the point of thinking at all?

The Dark Thoughts of a Troubled Teenager

I’m torn between killing everyone and killing myself, which is the better option?

I tightly shut my eyes and try to die with my thoughts; I’ve heard dolphins can do it. I have a small iron box from my grandmother, in which I’ve placed my stepfather’s scalpels. The scars on my arms have healed well, and since I only wear black sweaters, no one will ever find out. I’m 17 years old with a whole lot of death ahead of me.

My day will be dedicated to the usual things: escaping, running away, disappearing.

And as usual, I won’t accomplish anything, and even my disappearance will have to wait until tomorrow.

Reflections of a Man Wounded by Life

Since my accident, I’ve changed a lot. I count and recount everything I used to do before I couldn’t do them anymore.

I add up the total, and the sum leads me to nothing. In 55 years, I’ve had good moments; there have been excellent periods. What’s left for me to experience is becoming an immobile, lonely, and sad old goat.

With nothing else to do, I’ll watch nonsense on TV. Oh, someone has just expressed their opinion on Facebook. Oh, a woman is kissing a man on X. I’m fed up, fed up, fed up.

Behind the Mask of Apparent Happiness

For me, everything is fine. I never cry. In fact, I smile willingly. I’m kind and altruistic. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I lead a healthy lifestyle. Everyone thinks I’m in great shape.

I am the queen of illusion, an expert in camouflage. Internally, I live in a desert, sinking into a black hole with my shortcomings, mistakes, and regrets.

My true thoughts, which I don’t share with anyone, oscillate between despair, pessimism, and oblivion. But what’s the point in saying them? In this world, who would listen? Who would my tragic little self possibly interest?

The individuals having these internal monologues are fictional, but their experience is familiar to us. These people need guidance.

And you?

Depression and the Brain

I would like to explain to you how the mind of a person with depression functions. I will therefore explain the cognitive characteristics found in a depressive mind, and what we observe can be summarized in three elements:

Firstly, the depressive mind fixates on the past, filled with regrets.

Secondly, we talk about a negative attitude towards oneself.

Thirdly, there is low energy.

Fixation on the Past

Where does the depressive mind go? In general, it turns towards the past. The mind is fixated on the past and filled with regrets and guilt. They may tell themselves that if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have… and their mind is incredibly rigid.

In fact, there is no doubt in their mind that the way they conceptualize the past is absolutely true. You may have noticed this when you talk to yourself or when you talk with a friend, that a person filled with regrets can disagree with you, but they don’t see it.

Depression can be characterized by a focus on the past, while anxiety is characterized by a focus on the future (given what has happened to me or how I perceive myself, I won’t be able to change this in the future, which is where anxiety comes into play).

Negative Self-Attitude

is characterized by feeling hopeless, worthless, and powerless.

How do past regrets shape the negative self-attitude in the present?

I am completely incompetent in various ways. And we wonder where this comes from, the way we think about ourselves, our identity, in fact, it has to do with how we conceptualize the past because if I am someone who thinks I made these mistakes in the past, then I become that kind of person in the present.

So, if I am the person who failed in high school or didn’t graduate from college because I failed, I am lazy and worthless today. This past failure becomes who we are.

And the quality of that identity is based on the feeling of devaluation.

Devaluation

The person perceives themselves as a human being of low value, there’s no point in trying because I’m not a good person, people won’t see the worth in me as I am.

And if we want to understand where this comes from, here’s an example I can provide to illustrate it. A good illustration involves young children enduring their parents’ divorce.

A 2-year-old child has not yet developed what is called “theory of mind,” which is our human ability to understand that other human beings have their own mind.

A 2-year-old cannot grasp that other human beings have their own internal psychology and motivations because their brain has not yet developed this capacity.

So, if there’s no one else in the world, and something bad happens to me, then whose fault is it? It becomes my own fault because I am the only mind that exists.

So, young children lack the ability to blame other human beings, and something I often see in therapy sessions is that when parents have a very difficult divorce with young children, these children end up feeling unlovable.

All sorts of things happen, and parents will tell them it’s not their fault, but in the end, the child believes it’s their fault because their mind can’t comprehend it.

This can also happen with an alcoholic or abusive parent; the child will also perceive that all the bad things their father or mother feels are their fault. The key thing here is that the feeling of devaluation we have can be shaped by these past events.

The Feeling of Helplessness

The next thing we’re going to talk about is the feeling of helplessness in depression. People with a very negative attitude towards themselves lack the power or agency to control their future, and this intertwines with the feelings of devaluation, hopelessness, and regret.

Because if I didn’t do things right in the past, if I made huge mistakes that somehow determine who I am, then I deserve all my suffering. This seems incredibly permanent to the depressive mind. So, if you ask a depressed person if they have the power to change, they would answer no, and if I had the power to change my life, I would have done it in the past.

So, once again, they turn to the past and use the past to define their identity in the present.

The Feeling of Hopelessness

And when we combine the feeling of helplessness with the feeling of devaluation, we arrive at the feeling of hopelessness.

So when the depressive mind looks to the future, it sees nothing but darkness. They see themselves as someone who has messed everything up and has no power to change things, so their future is by definition hopeless.

This is where the feeling of low motivation also comes into play, and so the feeling of low motivation is somewhat a natural consequence of everything I’ve mentioned above.

So, what happens in the mind of a person experiencing depression?

Remember, they perceive themselves as powerless, so what does the likelihood of success of any action mean? It’s very, very low, so it’s very hard to motivate yourself if you live in a depressive mind.

Because every time you try to do something, what does your mind tell you? It tells you not to bother, that it won’t work, that there’s no point in trying, because those are the thoughts we experience in our depressive mind.

And then what happens is people seek resources to motivate themselves, read books or blogs on productivity, and I’m often asked this question: how to find motivation? And you keep trying to find more and more resources, and there are so many of them.

But think about it for a moment. If there are so many resources available, it means it doesn’t really work. If something truly worked, there wouldn’t be thousands of different solutions.

When a person is in a depressive state and feels very low motivation, they try to find it, but nothing works because they miss the crucial point.

What they really need is to focus on how motivation stems from their identity, the belief that they’re not worth much and can’t change the future. Because we are naturally motivated by things we already know we can accomplish.

So, if you want to address and understand motivation in depression, you need to understand this overall pattern by focusing on the root of the problem. As long as I believe I’m a powerless and worthless person, I will never be able to motivate myself.

And this identity is linked to the feeling of regret related to past experiences we had as children.

So, in psychotherapy, the work involves going back to the past and reframing how they understand their past.

And once we reframe that, it creates changes in the present, and once we manage to change how we judge ourselves, our sense of identity changes, and we start to believe different things about ourselves, which naturally leads to a change in motivation.

I’m trying to lay out a certain logic here, but of course, during psychotherapy, we work with the person to navigate what’s happening while respecting the person’s pace.

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